How a Senior Director Turned a Distributed Workforce into a High-Performing Community?

How 3 Steps Turned a Distributed Workforce Into a High Performing Community


A Senior Director led a Supply Chain community of 400+ highly skilled specialists and leaders. This community was a distributed workforce that operated from offices located in three geographical regions. They were supported by a Center of Excellence to push for excellence in essential capabilities for the supply chain, such as demand planning, advanced analytics,   and business intelligence.

These capabilities were however not the engine of excellence. On the contrary, it turned out that this Supply Chain community-operated slowly. This costed the global brand in the consumer market billions of US dollars during the Christmas sales because they had underestimated the demand for their new product line. There were signals in the community, but they never arrived at the decision-makers.

The Senior Director needed to transform the Supply Chain community. Initially, he considered the implementation of a new global system to structure this transformation. However, he quickly found out that the essentials capabilities were slowed down by hidden forces inside the community.

He reached out to Innovisor to get a data-driven view of the real community that could help him unlock the value of the hidden assets – the informal networks and the emotions.

How to unlock the value of your people?

The story is simple.
The Senior Director started with a baseline of the hidden assets, i.e. the informal networks. This revealed the pain points in the flow of collaboration that resulted in concrete tactical steps to make the redesign stick.
He re-assessed the organization 18 months later. This revealed that he not only succeeded with the redesign of the community. They also succeeded to work as a high-performing Supply Chain community impacting its critical Key Performance Indicators such as inventory turnover.

This is how he did it.

Step 1: Assess the baseline of the hidden assets

The baseline confirmed that his community was slowed down. This confirmation was backed by the right evidence on what the hidden forces were. It showed that the issue could not just be solved by a new global system.
The two pain points were:

1. The Center of Excellence was not embedded in the community
As a result, the Center of Excellence had a limited impact on the rest of the Supply Chain community. The Center of Excellence needed to be repositioned so that it could act as a facilitator and knowledge broker for the rest of the community. Network map - The Center of Excellence was not embedded in the community
2. The global supply chain organization was highly fragmented 
The fragmentation was not only seen across the geographic regions. It was also seen inside the regions.

Step 2: Unlock the value of the hidden assets

The key finding from the baseline assessment was that the Senior Director needed to redesign the community. To get sponsorship for this initiative, he mobilized three types of groups:

1. The whole community 
The Senior Director shared the visualization of the real community every time he met with his highly skilled specialists and leaders around the world. This way he reached the hearts of the people and mobilized everyone in the transformation. He got the wind in his back with strong alignment.
2. The connectors in the regions 
The Senior Director also worked with the right people inside the regions to counter the fragmentation. These people were the ones who tied together with the individuals inside the regions. They are better known as connectors. He engaged these connectors on cross-regional initiatives. As a result, new connectivity was established between the connectors, which improved the flow of information and knowledge across the regions.
3. The catalysts inside the organization 
The hidden social structures inside the Supply Chain community also revealed the employees who were most trusted as a source of information. These employees – the catalysts – were the ones others went to to make sense of what was actually going on. The catalysts – only 3% of the workforce – were kept informed by the Senior Director about what was happening inside Supply Chain.

Step 3: Succeed

Network Map - Three Steps to Turn a Distributed Workforce in a High Performing Organization - ReassessmentThe Senior Director re-assessed the real organization after 18 months. This re-assessment showed that he effectively transformed a distributed Supply Chain community into a cohesive and highperforming organization.  
The Center of Excellence
moved to the center of the communityIt repositioned itself as a facilitator and knowledge broker for excellent capabilities for the rest of the Supply Chain community.
The fragmentation of the regions was also fixed. The sharing of essential capabilities got better embedded in all corners of the community.
As a result, Supply Chain was able to move to an organization that generated transformational ideas and solutions within the Operations community of this global company with 10,000+ people. 
The improved connectivity resulted in better and faster signals from the frontline on client needs, which lead to better forecasting of production and sales and billion-dollar bottom-line improvements. Not least in the essential Christmas sales.

Conclusion

This story shows that as a leader you can certainly succeed with the transformation of your organization. You just need to unlock the hidden assets in your informal structures.
Get a data-driven view of your real organization and kick-start a successful transformation!